Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday called for a return to the path of dialogue and diplomacy to defuse the crisis in Ukraine as he and other Quad leaders discussed the Russian military offensive in the eastern European country and the humanitarian implications of it. A joint readout released by the White House said US President Joe Biden, Modi, Australian PM Scott Morrison and his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida discussed in the virtual format the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine besides assessing its "broader implications".
But it did not mention Russia or its military aggression. Going by the joint readout and the comments by the leaders, it appeared that there were divergent views on the crisis in Ukraine triggered by Russia's military offensive. "The Quad leaders discussed the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and assessed its broader implications," the joint readout said.
"They agreed to stand up a new humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mechanism which will enable the Quad to meet future humanitarian challenges in the Indo-Pacific and provide a channel for communication as they each address and respond to the crisis in Ukraine," it said. It said the Quad Leaders agreed to meet in person in Tokyo in the coming months.
An Indian statement said, "Developments in Ukraine were discussed in the meeting, including its humanitarian implications. The prime minister emphasised the need to return to a path of dialogue and diplomacy." It said Modi underlined that the Quad must remain focused on its "core objective" of promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region and that he also reiterated the importance of adhering to the UN Charter, international law and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.
"The meeting reviewed the progress on Quad initiatives since the September 2021 Quad Summit. The leaders agreed on accelerating cooperation, with an objective to achieve concrete outcomes by the summit in Japan later this year," it said. Though the joint readout did not directly refer to the Russian military offensive, Japanese PM Kishida's office quoted him as saying that "unilateral changes to the status quo by force or coercion like the recent Russian aggression against Ukraine are also unacceptable in the Indo-Pacific region".
"I met with my fellow Quad leaders Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Prime Minister Kishida Fumio about Russia's ongoing attack on Ukraine and our commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity around the world, including in the Indo-Pacific," Biden tweeted. Earlier, the White House said the meeting has been convened to discuss the "war against" Ukraine and its implications for the Indo-Pacific. The joint readout said the meeting was convened to reaffirm the commitment of the leaders to a free and open Indo-Pacific, in which the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states is respected and countries are "free from military, economic, and political coercion". It said the leaders reaffirmed their dedication to the Quad as a mechanism to promote regional stability and prosperity.
In a tweet, Modi described the meeting as "productive". Participated in a productive virtual Quad Leaders' meeting today with @POTUS @JoeBiden, PM @ScottMorrisonMP and @JPN_PMO Kishida. Reaffirmed our shared commitment to ensuring security, safety and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific," he said. It said Modi underlined that the Quad must remain focused on its core objective of promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region. "He called for concrete and practical forms of cooperation within the Quad, in areas like humanitarian and disaster relief, debt sustainability, supply chains, clean energy, connectivity and capacity-building," it said.
The leaders also discussed other topical issues, including the situation in Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean region and the Pacific Islands. "The leaders agreed to stay in touch and to work towards an ambitious agenda for the forthcoming Leaders' Summit in Japan," the statement said. In March last year, Biden hosted the first-ever summit of the Quad leaders in the virtual format that was followed by an in-person summit in Washington in September for which Prime Minister Modi had travelled to the US. The Quad has been focusing on cooperation in areas such as producing vaccines, connectivity projects, facilitating the mobility of students and looking at promoting startups and technology collaboration.
The foreign ministers of the Quad grouping held extensive talks in Melbourne last month. The Quad has been focusing on cooperation in areas such as producing vaccines, connectivity projects, facilitating the mobility of students, and looking at promoting startups and technology collaboration. The Quad vaccine partnership was announced in March last year with an aim to deliver 100 crore doses of vaccines to the Indo-Pacific region by the end of 2022.
With PTI Inputs